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My Approach to an Unconventionally Rewarding Life

I’m a perpetual student. I’ve been taking college classes on and off for about 8 years now, with the only universally recognized academic credential I have being an Associates Degree. But throughout that time I’ve dipped my toes into different disciplines and have chased after work that I find interesting or meaningful. 

At one point I was an aspiring astronomer, at another an aspiring welder, and right now an aspiring conservationist (which, for once, I have some optimism in my ability to stick to). My work history however, has had me in positions tinkering with 3D modeling and 3D printing, taking inventory and receiving for a warehouse, and even working as an AEMT on an ambulance. It’s become a bit of a running joke that I will never hold down a job for an extended period of time, and I’ve come to accept that that is more than likely the reality of things. There are too many things in this world that are so damn neat! 

How I’d love to experience the world from the perspective of a sanitation worker, an agricultural laborer, a soil scientist, or even a teacher. I chase after these things I find interesting because it’s captivating to be able to view and understand all of the roles that each of us play. Part of the beauty of our world is how we are all part of this extraordinarily intricate web, both in our place in nature and in our place in society. We are stewards of nature as well as our fellow man, to care for and nurture them to be at their very best.

But how I live seems to be fundamentally incompatible with ideas of conventional success. I occasionally struggle with this aspect of my life, as it seems I can come off as noncommittal, unmotivated, and undisciplined. And in some ways I absolutely have been. It’s difficult to make the decision to follow through with unstable but interesting goals rather than stable and pragmatic ones. There is an ever-present societal consciousness that looks down on those who don't fit the very narrow mold of what success is.

But why should I make myself miserable to meet the requirements that have been decided for me by people who don’t have the slightest understanding of my circumstances, interests, or worldview? The simple answer is that I shouldn’t. And because I haven't done so, I have been able to gauge which disciplines bring me joy or misery. I've been able to meet people from a wide variety of creeds and hear their stories. And I've been able to hear so many tales of passion, beauty, anger, and sadness that permeate our very existences, with each speaker providing a unique and fascinating backdrop from which their experiences originate. I very much doubt I would appreciate life the same way I do now had I remained steadfastly on one track without looking in any other direction. If I had done that, would my life be more materially comfortable? Probably. But materials have very rarely enriched my life in any meaningful sense in the first place.

We all have one opportunity to experience this, why squander it in the pursuit of something as dull and as temporary as material possessions?

"No one has ever lied on their death bed and thought 'I wish I had spent more time at the office.'" -Someone, somewhere, that had said this to me at some point.


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